That was this week's task ... 5 pulls, 170 ft. long, of 600MCM copper. 4" pipe.
No matter how you look at it, that's a lot of wire to pull. Just unloading the truck is tough!
This time, thank heaven, we were able to rent a wire tugger. United Rentals brought in a Greenlee machine. One week for $600. Heck, the scrap from the job will cover that!
Heads were made the old fashioned way - no basket / Kellems grips here! Nope- we braided an eye into the 3/8" pull rope, then looped the wires through the eye.
The looping was a bit involved. We discarded the inside strands of each cable, then formed the outside strands into two groups. One group entered the eye from the left and was folded back; the other entered from the right. Scrap strands were then wrapped around the folded strands, making a nice tight bundle. The entire head was no fatter than the bundle of wires itself. Then we wrapped it all in tape - first duct tape, then a layer of electrical tape.
(I bet 'pipe wrap tape' would work even better than electrical tape for this job!)
We were generous with the lube ... we averaged nearly two gallons per pull.
Final results: We got all five pulls done the same (10 hour) day; we had scheduled four days for this. All six of us were still tired - but imagine the alternative! Pulls went smooth and steady.
The moral of this story is: USE a tugger! I've been in the trade since the last millennium ... and this is the first time I've had the luxury. It beats the tar out of the usual improvised "tuggers:" cranes, forklifts, pick-up trucks, etc.
Now, your local rental firm might hem and haw- but they DO have tuggers available.
Yea, I know ... it's all too easy for this to become a contest of "You think that was tough? Well, let me tell you ...!"
Not my point.
Lots of things LOOK good in the catalogs. Yet, you can't have everything - especially when those things are seldom used and cost thousands of dollars. I'm pretty sure there are new cars that cost less than a super-tugger, and the required accessories (rope, basket, radios, lube, sheaves, etc.).
Then there's the matter of rental. I've run into all manner of opposition at supply houses- mainly blank looks of ignorance when I ask if they have them available. Nor is the rental cost trivial. $600 is more money than I want to spend on taking a shot in the dark.
That's why I made my post- to encourage others to take the chance. IMO, I don't think anyone should EVER pull big wire using simple muscle ever again.
Where to draw the line? Well, let's pretend "MCM stands for "Machine Conquers Muscle." Maybe that's why the big wires are called "MCM" .
Yes, I agree with you, the initial cost of a lot of 'cool tools' can be a deterrent. Renting equipment that is seldom used is a great source of bending equipment, pullers, cable jacks, reel stands, scissor lifts, booms, etc.
I am not aware of any supply houses that 'rent'. Electrical equipment rental (pullers/benders) were not plentiful in this area. One that I used was about 35 miles south of my shop; not bad, and not to pricey back then.
I invested $$$ into equipment, as I saw the scheduled requirements, and future rental fees offsetting the costs.
One of the things I like being an electrician is we have some of the coolest tools. Wire pulled is no exception. Tools are indispensable. As the same time, the bean counters who make our tools know the value of thir tools and price them accordingly. Renting or leasing the specialty tools it's about many if us can even afford them. Bigger the job, the better to rent, lease, or buy them. Unless one is regularly doing big pulls, it's probably more economical to rent versus buying.
Another puller I used is the Maxis. It runs off a hole hog. So it's an economal alternative. I've used it on one big pull and had no issue with it. It secured to its own dolly making it easily transportable. In fact, my wife brought it back for me from their warehouse in Arizona clear up here to Alaska as a check on bag.
Crazy as that may sound, that's the norm up here without roads. As nice a Greenlee, it's not as portable as the Maxis. It's a nice fit in my opinion between a Greenlee and elbow grease....
I agree completely- there is a place for a smaller puller.
In that respect, the Greenlee pullers are "over-engineered." They pretty much aim to be able to pull anything, anywhere, anytime. Sure, that's fine ... but ... big pulls are but a tiny part of the job. Far more often are the 70-ft. pulls of, say, 6-#12's.
What can I say? Kudos to Maxis for addressing the obvious. All the folks out there who slam the Maxis are either dishonest, ignorant, or abusing the tool.
I've encountered similar criticism with my tiny battery-powered bandsaw. "But it won't cut 2" some folks will complain. No, it won't- but it sure is handy for the smaller pipe that makes up 90% of the work!
Back on point: smaller pulls aside, it amazes me the number of times I've seen 'big wire' pulled by simple muscle; my last such pulls were last December (230-ft pulls of 250MCM tray cable). A tugger seems such an obvious choice.
Yet, it's a pretty expensive tool to have sitting around most of the year. Such a tool is an ideal candidate for rental. Again, I have encountered a lot of denial when I have asked about renting one. Neither the rental houses nor the supply houses would admit to having one, or have even heard of them being rented.
Well, that's simply incorrect. Now we KNOW that at least United Rentals can get them. With all the free publicity I'm giving United Rentals here, I fully expect reps from other rental firms to jump in and say "hey- we have them too!"